A group of U.S. Senators has urged Uzbek President Islam Karimov to release five prisoners whose detention "appears to be politically motivated."
In a November 24 letter to Karimov, Democratic Senators Dick Durbin, Barbara Boxer, Bob Casey, Robert Menendez, Patrick Leahy, Richard Blumenthal, and Benjamin Cardin, and Republican Mark Kirk, expressed their appreciation of the U.S.-Uzbek cooperation on issues related to Afghanistan.
But they stressed that the ongoing detention of the five Uzbeks, all human rights advocates or journalists, remains "an impediment to further cooperation between our two countries."
The senators said Akzam Turgunov, Dilmurod Saidov, Salijon Abdurakhmanov, Muhammad Bekjanov, and Bobomurod Razzokov "have been characterized as prisoners of conscience" by international organizations.
They said all five are reportedly suffering from poor health brought on by years of incarceration and "a lack of adequate medical attention."
The senators called on Karimov to immediately release the five men "on humanitarian grounds," adding that this "would help to further relations between our countries."